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Helen Skelton
Helen Skelton.jpg
Skelton, 2011
Born
Helen Elizabeth Skelton

19 July 1983 (1983-07-19) (age 37)
Other names Helen Skelton-Myler
Occupation
Years active 1999–present
Employer
Television Blue Peter (2008–13)
Countryfile (2008—present)
Holiday Hit Squad (2013–2014)
The Instant Gardener (2015—2016)
Lorraine (2016–2017)
Big Week At The Zoo (2019—present)
Friday on the Farm (2020-)
Spouse(s) Richie Myler (m. 2013)
Children 2

Helen Elizabeth Skelton (born 19 July 1983) is an English television presenter and actress. She co-presented the BBC children's programme Blue Peter from 2008 until 2013, and since 2014 has been a presenter on Countryfile. She also co-presented two series of the BBC One programme Holiday Hit Squad alongside Angela Rippon and Joe Crowley. She also presented the daytime series The Instant Gardener that ran for two seasons.

Skelton is the current presenter of all swimming coverage on the BBC, including the European Swimming Championships, World Aquatics Championships and the Olympics.

Early life

Skelton was born on 19 July 1983, in Carlisle, Cumbria, England, and brought up on a dairy farm in the village of Kirkby Thore. She attended its local Primary School, and then Appleby Grammar School, ultimately graduating from Cumbria Institute of the Arts, where she gained a BA degree in journalism. During her time at college, she worked as an extra on Coronation Street and Cutting It.

Skelton is a qualified tap dance teacher and has said that if she was not a broadcaster, she would be a teacher. Her brother Gavin is a professional footballer and has also been a player-manager.

Career

CatBluePeter
Helen Skelton signing autographs in December 2010

Early career

After briefly working in public relations, Skelton decided to concentrate on journalism. She worked in the newsroom at CFM Radio, and was involved with various programmes at Border Television, before becoming a breakfast presenter on BBC Radio Cumbria in 2005, one of the youngest breakfast slot presenters on the BBC network at that time. She was then a reporter and occasional presenter on children's news programme Newsround and its weekend sports-based version, Sportsround.

Television

Skelton was revealed as a presenter on Blue Peter on 28 August 2008, replacing Zöe Salmon and becoming the 33rd presenter for the programme. In a challenge for the series, Skelton took an uncredited role in the BBC production of Merlin. In August 2013, she announced her departure from the show; she was replaced by Radzi Chinyanganya. Skelton worked on other projects during her time on Blue Peter, mainly correspondent-based; these included reporting from the Championships, Wimbledon.

After her departure from Blue Peter, Skelton became a presenter of live FA Women's Super League football matches for the BT Sport channel, as well as retaining her BBC reporter roles. She has occasionally presented segments of Countryfile since 2008, and also presented two series of Holiday Hit Squad in 2013/14 alongside Angela Rippon and Joe Crowley. In 2014/15, she presented the London Marathon Highlights show on the BBC. She was replaced by Ore Oduba in 2016.

In December 2012, Skelton took part in a Christmas Special edition of the BBC One programme Strictly Come Dancing. Since 2015, Skelton has co-presented daytime BBC One series The Instant Gardener alongside Danny Clarke. In early 2016, she presented Tonight: Kids V Career.

Skelton also hosted coverage of the 2016 European Swimming Championships with Mark Foster and Rebecca Adlington. She worked for the BBC at the 2016 Summer Olympics presenting swimming coverage alongside Rebecca Adlington, Adrian Moorhouse, Andy Jameson and Mark Foster. In October that year, Skelton guest presented five editions of Lorraine on ITV, plus further five in February 2017. She also co-presented two editions of Walks with My Dog on More4 in 2017; in the same year, Skelton returned to host the swimming coverage on the BBC during the 2017 World Aquatics Championships with Adlington and Foster.

Writing

Skelton's first novel, Amy Wild: Amazon Summer, was published in May 2015.

Radio

Skelton hosts a weekly slot on BBC Radio 5 Live on Sundays from 3pm to 6pm and acts as temporary co-host on BBC Radio 5 Live Drive Time with Tony Livesey.

Challenges

Wheelchair dance contest challenge

In December 2008, Skelton entered and won the Malta Open Dance Competition with a 16-year-old wheelchair user as her partner, defeating 100 other dancers.

Ultra marathons

In April 2009, Skelton became only the second woman ever to finish the 78-mile (126 km) Namibian ultra marathon. She completed the run in 23 hours and 45 minutes – just 15 minutes under the time limit of one day. She told Newsround: 'It was a gruelling experience, but one I'll never forget. There were tough times but also amazing times.' Just weeks later, she completed the 2009 London Marathon.

Kayaking the Amazon

In early 2010, Skelton kayaked the entire length of the River Amazon for Sport Relief 2010. She kayaked 2,010 miles (3,230 km) on a solo journey from Nauta in Peru on 20 January, to Almeirim, Brazil on 28 February. She achieved two entries in the Guinness World Records: the longest solo journey by kayak, and the longest distance in a kayak in 24 hours by a woman.

Nigel Evans, the member of parliament for the Ribble Valley, tabled an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons after her Amazon challenge:

That this House congratulates Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton on her 2,000 mile kayak along the Amazon to raise money for Sport Relief; notes her considerable position as a role model to young people and the magnificent example she sets; further notes the forthcoming verification by Guinness World Records of the two records set by Helen during her effort – longest solo journey by kayak and the longest distance travelled in a kayak in 24 hours by a woman; and further notes the work of Sport Relief in raising money to help transform the lives of poor and vulnerable people, both in the UK and all over the world.

Tightrope walking

Skelton walked a 150-metre tightrope between chimneys at Battersea Power Station, 66 metres above ground, to raise money for Comic Relief on 28 February 2011. Blue Peter created two specials about her walk.

South Pole

In 2012, Skelton raised more money for Sport Relief by becoming the first person to reach the South Pole using a bicycle. The bike was custom built for her trip, with 8-inch-wide tyres. She also used skis and a kite to help her pull a sled containing 82 kg of supplies.

Skelton covered 329 miles by kite ski, 103 by bike and 69 by cross-country ski. She is also the first person to claim a world record for the fastest 100 km by kite ski, in seven hours 28 minutes, which was set during the trip. Guinness World Records commentated on the award, saying: 'We are aware of explorers who have achieved longer distances, but Helen Skelton’s application was the first that Guinness World Records had received specifically for the 100-kilometre distance.' Blue Peter also made five six-episode specials for this event.

Helen's Magnificent 7

In April 2013, wanting to inspire Blue Peter viewers to do something to support Comic Relief, Skelton took on seven challenges set by Comic Relief while breaking one world record. She called this series of challenges her "Magnificent 7", a reference to the 1960 Western The Magnificent Seven:

  • Rugby Kick – failed
  • Performing In 2 Shows On One Night – succeeded
  • Flying With the Red Arrows – succeeded
  • Photo Shoot – succeeded
  • Rope Bridge – succeeded
  • Longest Line of Bunting – succeeded (at the time, a World Record)
  • Coin Toss – failed

Sport Relief

In March 2018, Skelton took part in a celebrity boxing match defeating Camilla Thurlow via unanimous decision after three 2-minute rounds for the BBC's Sport Relief

Personal life

In December 2013, Skelton married England national rugby league team player Richie Myler, and gave birth to their first child, a boy, on 19 June 2015. After Myler joined the Catalans Dragons club, they moved to France in September 2015. He currently plays for the Yorkshire club Leeds Rhinos. Their second son was born in April 2017.

Filmography

Television
Year Title Role
1999 Coronation Street Supporting role
Cutting It Supporting role
2005 BBC Radio Cumbria Presenter
2007 Sportsround Co-presenter
2007–2008 Newsround Reporter & relief presenter
2008–2013 Blue Peter Co-presenter
2008— Countryfile Co-presenter
2009–2011 Country Tracks Co-presenter
2012 Strictly Come Dancing: Christmas Special Contestant
2013–2014 Holiday Hit Squad Co-presenter
2014–2015 London Marathon Highlights Presenter
2015— The Instant Gardener Co-presenter
2016 2016 European Swimming Championships Coverage (BBC) Presenter
2016, 2018— Tonight Reporter
2016 BBC Sport Olympic Coverage Presenter
The School that Got Teens Reading Co-presenter
2016–2017 Lorraine Guest presenter
2017 Walks with My Dog Co-presenter, 2 episodes
2017 2017 World Aquatics Championships Swimming Coverage (BBC) Presenter
2018– Big Week at the Zoo/This Week at the Farm Co-presenter
2019– Digging Up Britain's Past Co-presenter, 1 Season, 6 Episodes
2020 Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins Contestant
Luxury Christmas for Less Co-presenter
2021 Steph’s Packed Lunch Guest presenter

Guest appearances

Preceded by
Zöe Salmon
Blue Peter Presenter No. 33
2008–13
Succeeded by
Radzi Chinyanganya
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